“If you could give yourself one bit of advice upon arriving to the United States, what would it be?” IrishCentral went to the streets and asked this question of the Irish community located along the Bronx and Yonkers border in New York.
The interviewees answers vary in both subject and levity, but offer a striking level of candor.
Simone arrived from County Fermanagh in 2008. She advises them to be “more open-minded, and willing to do any hours, any days, in any job. Just take what you can get.”
Kevin, a Cork native who emigrated nearly 30 years ago, said, “Get a job as soon as possible and make some money. The rest will come later.”
Twenty years ago, Martina arrived to New York from Sligo for a two-week visit, on a visa her sister had arranged.
Martina said, “When I arrived at the airport, the taxi driver told me not to look up at the big buildings and just try to fit in. It served me well those first few days, as I had a job temping in no time.”
Clare, from Kilkenny, who emigrated ten weeks ago, believes that one should “be prepared for accommodation. Make sure you have everything sorted before you get out here.”
Upon arriving to New York in October 2012, another Kilkenny native, Gary, jokes that he should not wait “four months to buy a proper bed. An air mattress isn’t too comfortable.”
He said, “I got fairly sorted for work, fairly quick, so I don’t have too many regrets.”
Sean arrived to New York from County Cavan in 2009. He believes that one should “never use sarcasm. You’ll end up becoming the punch line to your own jokes.”
Pat, from Dublin, said, “Stay grounded. And don’t drink too much.”
Oliver, who arrived from Leitrim in 1976, told IrishCentral, “When you come from nothing, but were happy just the same, take your lumps when you get here. You have to because you don’t know anyone – you’re basically anonymous. And make sure that you learn from everybody.”
Due to Ireland’s reputed “brain drain,” thousands of young immigrants arrive to the U.S. with expectations of employment and accommodation. Immigrants, such as those interviewed, serve as prime examples because they overcame initial challenges in the pursuit of success.
For further assistance, please visit the Aisling Irish Community Center, located at 990 McLean Avenue in Yonkers, or the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, located at 4275 Katonah Ave. in the Bronx.